I once had a parent tell me that the reason she didn’t like consensual living was because she felt that first thinking about your response in a situation was “fake parenting.” In order to be “real,” she thought it was important for the parent to say whatever was first thought. However, that isn’t responsive parenting; it’s reactive parenting.
We’ve all had experiences during our lifetimes, and those experiences shape our lives. It’s an ineveitable fact of life. However, the extent to which those things shape our lives is up to us. Reacting relies not on conscious thought but on unconsciuos scripts. If you have ever heard yourself say a phrase which reminded you of your mother or father, you know exactly what I am speaking of. In order to authentically commnuicate with our children, we need to be willing to push past those automatic responses. Naomi Aldort’s S.A.L.V.E. technique has helped a lot of parents with this.
- S – Silent Self-Inquiry or Separate Yourself from the Situation - Before you unleash the words that want to pop out of your mouth when an incident happens with your child, take a moment to separate yourself from the situation. If you jump into your automatic script, you will merely be reacting rather than authentically responding.
- A – Attention on Your Child – Pay attention to your child and try to understand what is really going on from his perspective.
- L – Listen – Really listen to your child. We learn the most when we stop talking and pay attention to what is going on.
- V – Validate – Your child has feelings which affect his behavior. Regardless of what just happened, he needs to know that you love him no matter what. By validating that you understand his point of view, you will be strengthening the connection you share with him so that you can work together to come up with a solution which meets everyone’s needs.
- E – Empower – Empower your child be expressing your trust in him. CHildren are very resourceful and are quite capable of coming up with solutions for their problems or helping to come up with solutions to meet everyone’s needs.